US, Afghan forces push Taliban to outskirts of Farah city
16 May, 2018, 15:07 | Author: Kathy Ellis
About 300 insurgents have been killed in the day-long attack by nearly 2,000 Taliban insurgents in western Farah province's capital city, provincial governor Abdul Basir Salangi said. He said more than 10 militants have been killed, and five security forces wounded.
Salangi said at least 25 government troops were killed.
"Heavy fighting is going on and Taliban are in the city but the police headquarters and NDS (the Afghan intelligence agency) have not fallen to them", he said.
Local people said Taliban forces began their attack at around 2.00 a.m. (2130 GMT Monday) from several directions and a senior official said the situation was serious early in the day as the insurgents overran several areas and the provincial governor left the city.
Afghan officials said police special forces from Kandahar and commandos from Herat had also been deployed.
The fighting in Farah was part of a recent increase in the tempo of attacks by the insurgents, since their announcement of a spring offensive late in April and their explicit rejection of Afghan government peace initiatives.
Noorul Haq, spokesman for the Afghan National Army (ANA) in Farah, said up to 1,000 security personnel are engaged in gunfight with the militants.
"Heavy fighting continues inside the city and aircraft have just started bombarding Taliban positions", she told AFP Tuesday from inside Farah.
The ministry of defense also claims that scores of Taliban militants have also sustained injuries during the clashes with the security forces.
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Clashes have been ongoing for the past few months in different parts of Farah province.
"The people are running from the city and the situation is very bad", said a resident of Farah. He said casualties were high among security forces, but couldn't provide a precise number.
North Atlantic Treaty Organisation said in a statement on Tuesday (Wednesday NZT) that A-10 close support fighter jets were circling Farah, which it said remains under government control.
A North Atlantic Treaty Organisation spokesman warned there could be more fighting Wednesday. "This is the normal stuff by people who can not win at the ballot box, so they turn to bombs", Mattis said when asked about a day of bloodshed in Afghanistan that left dozens dead, including many children and journalists.
The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was contradicting official government reports.
Many radio and television channels in the province have stopped broadcasting, fearing for their employees' lives, according to media watchdog Nai.
The attack on Farah is the first siege of a provincial capital this year. Despite the pressure of greatly stepped-up US and Afghan airstrikes, the Taliban have shown little interest in the Afghan government's offer of a comprehensive peace agreement. There are plans for a section of the multi-billion-dollar TAPI (Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India) gas pipeline to traverse it.
But it has been the scene of intense fighting in recent years. Kunduz was subsequently retaken by the government both times.
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